WikiLeaks espionage case: Julian Assange walks free after plea deal with US

WikiLeaks said in a statement that Julian Assange is free. He left Belmarsh maximum security prison on the morning of June 24, after having spent 1,901 days there.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange (Photo | AP)

LONDON: Julian Assange's wife Stella on Tuesday thanked campaigners for their support as the WikiLeaks founder was released after five years in British custody.

"Julian is free!!!!" she wrote on the social media platform X following confirmation that he had left Belmarsh high-security prison in southeast London. Words cannot express our immense gratitude" to everyone who had backed the global push for his release, she added.

Stella Assange met the Australian publisher while he was holed up in Ecuador's London embassy to avoid extradition to Sweden on sexual assault charges that were later dropped.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange
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Assange, accused of divulging US military secrets related to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, had been due back in court in London next month after winning an appeal against extradition.

WikiLeaks said in a statement that Julian Assange is free. He left Belmarsh maximum security prison on the morning of June 24, after having spent 1,901 days there. He was granted bail by the High Court in London and was released at Stansted airport during the afternoon, where he boarded a plane and departed the UK.

The media freedom group said sustained campaigning, from grassroots supporters to political leaders and the United Nations, "created the space for a long period of negotiations with the US Department of Justice", leading to a deal.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange
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Assange was initially detained for skipping bail concerning the Swedish case and held in custody while the US extradition request wound its way through court.

He will now be reunited with his wife, whom he married at a ceremony in the prison, and their two young children, it added.

"WikiLeaks published ground-breaking stories of government corruption and human rights abuses, holding the powerful accountable for their actions," the statement read.

"As editor-in-chief, Julian paid severely for these principles, and for the people's right to know. As he returns to Australia, we thank all who stood by us, fought for us, and remained utterly committed in the fight for his freedom. Julian's freedom is our freedom," the statement added.

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